Gizmodo works with DA in lost iPhone 4 probe

San Mateo County District Attorney withdraws request to search gear belonging to Jason Chen after the Gizmodo editor agrees to turn over info.

Jason Chen, the Gizmodo editor whose computer equipment was seized in April as part of an investigation into a missing prototype iPhone 4, has voluntarily agreed to turn over information to authorities.

Gizmodo editor Jason Chen

The agreement between Chen and the San Mateo County District Attorney's office, which calls for the DA to drop attempts to search Chen's property , puts an end to the dispute over whether the search of Chen's computer gear was lawful. The settlement also provides the DA's office with the information it sought from Chen, said Chief Dep. District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe in an interview with CNET on Friday.

Last March, an Apple engineer was testing the prototype phone when he lost possession of it in a bar. Brian Hogan, the man who found the iPhone, later sold it to Gizmodo for $5,000. The popular gadget blog published a story and photos about the device. After retrieving the handset from Gizmodo, Apple reported the incident to police.

Nick Denton, founder of Gizmodo parent company Gawker Media, declined to comment.

In the ensuing investigation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Chen's attorneys argued that the warrant used to search Chen's home was "invalid" because Chen is a journalist. They cited a California law that curbs newsroom searches and said there was likely information in the computers unconnected to the prototype iPhone that authorities shouldn't see, such as the identities of anonymous sources.

To protect that kind of material, the judge in the case appointed an independent third party to search Chen's computers and report his findings back to the court. The judge would decide what was relevant to the case and should be turned over to the DA.

Wagstaffe has yet to receive any of Chen's information but said the handover should occur soon. He declined to comment about whether his office has plans to file criminal charges in the case, but did say the investigation continues.

For Apple, the iPhone 4 leak may be the least of its problems. News of the agreement comes on the same day that Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a press to try to put an iPhone 4 antenna glitch behind him during a press conference.

 

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